Students at Paul Huber Middle School recently helped build a rain garden between one of the wings at their school on Washington Avenue.

What is a rain garden?

According to the internet, “A rain garden receives water from impervious (hard) surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks, driveways and patios. The shallow depression of the garden holds the water so it can slowly infiltrate back into the soil as the plants, mulch and soil naturally remove pollutants from the runoff.”

The Watershed Management Group (WMG) out of Tucson, along with Freeport-McMoRan and the Douglas Unified School District all assisted in the project which featured two days of classroom instruction prior to the installation.

According to the WMG website, they provide a schoolyard water education program where students are taught hands-on activities while using outdoor learning laboratories.

“One of the central goals is to create and enhance outdoor classrooms on school campuses,” the website reads.

Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar, Cultural Ecologist for WMG, said his organization became involved in the project after being contacted by Ann George, a representative with Freeport-McMoRan after seeing what Huber had to offer in regards to a project like this, following a zoology demonstration she had made at the school.

She approached Randy Walker, principal at Paul Huber Middle School, about the possibility of installing a rain garden at the school and, following a series of emails, the project was set in motion.

George said Freeport-McMoRan and WMG donated not only manpower to the project but also the materials which included the plants, rock and mulch. Freeport also showed up the day before the project was to take place with a backhoe and cleared the section where the rain garden was to be installed.

“This ties back into what Freeport is doing with the pollinated conservation initiative,” she said. “This initiative goes back seven to eight years now. It encourages the development of pollinated habitat. … We see this as a great addition for the environment.”

Both Saldivar and George said they have helped build rain gardens at several other schools throughout Cochise County and are happy DUSD agreed to have one built at one of its schools.

Walker said about 25 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students were allowed to miss class the day the project was taking place so that they could take part in helping build the rain garden.

“After looking deeper into this I thought this would be a really good project for our kids as well as the school itself,” he said. “Our science teachers were also excited. We’re only doing one wing at the moment; Joaquin selected it based on the layout.”

“I can’t thank both groups enough for what they’re doing for Paul Huber Middle School,” Walker said. “This is going to be a nice addition to our school.”

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